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Nederlog


  October
10, 2014
Crisis: NSA, War, Islamophobia, Corporations, Energy, Obama, Snowden, TTIP
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton
















Prev- crisis -Next
Sections
Introduction

1.
 NSA: Even the Secrets We Tell You Are Too Secret For
     You To Know About

2.
Bombing Isis fails war’s most critical imperative, so
     where is the opposition?

3. The Rise of the New, Liberal Islamophobia
4. Corporations Are Trying to Take Your Right to Complain
     About Their Products Away

5. Renewables Not Enough: World Needs Democratic,
     Decentralized Energy, says Report

6. Critics to Obama: 'Draconian Cuts' Have Been to US Public
     Services, Not War Budget

7. Edward Snowden to speak at Observer Ideas festival
8. What’s Wrong With The Trans Atlantic Trade And
     Investment Partnership?

9. Personal

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, October 10. It is a
crisis log.

The present crisis log has 9 items and 8 links. As usual, most news is bad, but there is some good news about Snowden in item 7. Also at least item 1, item 4,
item 6 and item 8 seem interesting to me.

Item 9 is only a brief warning about tomorrow, when I will start with some on my disease that I have since 1.1.1979. (This will probably not interest many, and will be in its own file.)

1. NSA: Even the Secrets We Tell You Are Too Secret For You To Know About

The first item is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
It’s an assertion that defies common sense but speaks volumes about how the U.S. intelligence complex dodges accountability: The National Security Agency is arguing that even the secrets it has intentionally disclosed to reporters are still so secret that disclosing their disclosure threatens national security.
Yes, indeed, though there are two partial explanations (and a third one we get below): First, the NSA has been extremely secret until Edward Snowden outed it. There were some who criticized it, for quite a long time also, notably James Bamford, but for quite a long time very few had any idea the NSA existed, and had certainly few ideas what it was doing, for this was all secret. Second, the speakers for the NSA generally keep up front: Although it is very hard to believe that they believe much of the nonsense they purvey, they do pretend they believe it - and in fact few can check them out, for nearly all they do is done in secret.

But the real explanation is the one Froomkin gives:
(...) what the NSA is so sensitive about is how frequently its officials disclose secrets when doing so serves the agency’s political agenda – and especially when it discredits the agency’s critics.
That is to say, the NSA is quite capable of leaking secrets, provided only the secrets they leak supports their own propaganda:

One of the biggest open secrets in Washington is that, despite officialdom’s intensive efforts to demonize whistleblowers like former NSA analyst Edward Snowden, the vast majority of disclosures of secret information are not “leaks” but “pleaks” — a term Columbia Law Professor David E. Pozen coined to describe something that is more like an official “plant” than a “leak.”

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were particularly adept at selectively disclosing secret intelligence findings that served their agenda – even while aggressively asserting the need to keep secret the information that would damage them.

For more, see the above dotted link - and the term "pleaks" is a good one.

2. Bombing Isis fails war’s most critical imperative, so where is the opposition?

The next item is an article by Simon Jenkins on The Guardian:

This  starts as follows:

It is my first Hitler of this war. I queried the west’s strategy of bombing Islamic State (Isis) and an elegant thinktanker retorted, “I suppose you would let Hitler run riot over Europe.” I walked away. I always respect Godwin’s Law, which states that the longer an argument runs, the greater the likelihood Hitler gets mentioned, killing it stone dead.

I cannot recall a conflict so swamped by incoherence as the one in northern Iraq. The awfulness of Isis has given the something-must-be-done-even-if-it’s-stupid lobby an ostensibly crushing moral ascendancy. The right takes comfort in faux belligerence: David Cameron’s party conference speech frothed with “evil people, pure and simple”; it dripped with killed children, raped women, genocides and beheadings. He declared that “some people seem to think we can opt out of this. We can’t. There is no walk-on-by option.”

Actually, I do not respect Godwin's Law: It seems to me an an attempt to stop all mentioning of Nazism. I do not deny many mentionings are like the one quoted above, which are little better than lies or postures, but then most public arguments are bound to be false, given how many there are, and how opposed these often are.

Also, I am Dutch, and I am the only Dutchman (who lives in Holland) I know who had a father and a grandfather condemned by the Nazis to the concentration camp as "political terrorists", which my grandfather did not survive, while the Dutch in great majority stood by and did nothing, as over 1% of the total population was rounded up to be gassed "because they belonged to an inferior race". (But it is true that it was largely unknown they were to be gassed. It is also true there were six time more Dutchmen in the SS as there were in the resistance, and true that, as soon as the war was over, almost every Dutchman - according to a late Dutch prime minister, who was quite heroic in the war - claimed to be a hero of the resistance. Nearly all lied.)

Besides, I have been removed as a student from the philosophy faculty of the University of Amsterdam briefly before taking my M.A. there as "a fascist" and "a terrorist" - which I am not at all - according to no less than 16 academically paid, tenured and employed parasites, whose parasitism I criticized in an invited public lecture in 1988 - and indeed none of them ever published anything, or hardly anything, and never of any value, but they were paid 15 or more times what I was and am paid, for doing nothing at all except parasiting very well from the Dutch taxes as bureaucratic pseudo-philosophers.

Finally, there is a good reason to mention Nazism and keep it in mind: It is the best recent Western example of great evil, and of an autocratic dictatorial regime that started a World War and killed around 73 million people.

Next, "the awfulness of Isis" is something few Westerners have any first hand experience of: while I do not deny they seem to be awful, most that reached me definitely has the ring of propaganda around it, indeed both by Isis and by the Western media (and the last tend to not mention drones, bombings and the many deaths caused by the Americans the last 13 years).

Here is some more by Simon Jenkins:

Cameron is emerging as a typical politician of fear, with his hyperbolic elevation of Isis as a menace that “we must deal with or they will deal with us, bringing terror and murder to our streets”. An inability to differentiate between lethal criminality and national security is dangerous in a democratic leader.

Yes, indeed. There is considerably more under the last dotted link, and Jenkins is right in asking for opposition to this war, which is almost totally absent, in spite of the fact - or maybe because of the fact - that this war is not winnable and does have no clear aim, while it is furthered by hysteria.

3. The Rise of the New, Liberal Islamophobia

The next item is an article by Sonali Kolhatkar on Truthdig!:
This starts as follows:

The recent television kerfuffle involving “Real Time” host Bill Maher and guest Sam Harris over whether Muslims are bad people because their religion is, in the words of Harris, “the mother lode of bad ideas,” is symbolic of the new American Islamophobia.

Muslim-bashing has become a popular sport several times over the last decade and a half, most notably in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks; after the election of Barack Obama; over the proposal for the so-called Ground Zero mosque; and now with the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. But this time, it’s not just members of the extreme right, such as Rep. Michele Bachmann and presidential wannabe Herman Cain, equating Islam with terrorism.

Maher, one of the bastions of liberal ideology, is the source of the latest strain of anti-Muslim racism, along with his cohort Harris, a neuroscientist and author whose bigotry was superbly exposed by Chris Hedges in his 2008 book, “I Don’t Believe in Atheists.”

Well...yes and no. I agree with the middle paragraph, but the first paragraph does not seem quite right about Bill Maher - "Muslims are bad people because their religion is" - while the third seems to be written by a religious believer.

Indeed, as I have said before, I do not like Sam Harris and I do like Chris Hedges, but I am a philosopher who is an atheist, with parents who were atheists (and also sincere, intelligent, honest and brave), while my mother's family were atheists since the 1850ies (when very few people were), and I just do not believe in religion: As Multatuli said, "all religion is superstition". They are also all false (or if you are religious: all but one are false), and all use extremely bad and invalid arguments to further faith in their assertions.

Kolhatkar also has this about Bill Maher:
I have never liked Maher. His comedy has generally catered to a white middle-class male audience that has attempted to reconcile ideals of equality and freedom with moral superiority and American exceptionalism. In that sense he perfectly reflects the hawkish desires of the Democratic Party, which sees war as a just cause in the face of fundamentalism—never mind that U.S. policies have often laid the groundwork for said fundamentalism to flourish in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria.
I like Bill Maher, though I disagree with him on quite a number of things, that include his portrayal of Muslims and his support for Obama. The main reason I like him (I am white, but not middle-class nor American) is that he is one of the few who is smart, funny and mostly - more or less - right about American politics, together with Jon Stewart and a few others.

But I suppose that - not liking Bill Maher - is part of the reason Kolhatkar writes about him, though indeed there also are other reasons.

Anyway, there is a considerable amount more under the last dotted link.

4. Corporations Are Trying to Take Your Right to Complain About Their Products Away

The next item is an article by Sage McHugh on Alternet:
This starts as follows:

Customers may unknowingly sign away their right to free speech by accepting the terms of service without reading the fine print. To prevent consumers from posting negative reviews, some companies are slipping non-disparagement clauses into contracts. If users post bad reviews online, even accounts that are completely truthful, they could be sued for violating the terms of these so-called agreements.

Companies do have the right to sue people for disparaging reviews if they are false. The issue at hand is whether a company can sue a client for posting a negative review that is true. As of now, litigation is largely determined on a case-by-case and state-by-state basis.

To me this sounds both crazy and true.

I would say that my rights to free speech are much more important - if I speak truly or mostly truly - than whatever a corporation can impose on me by my refusal to read their fine print (which tends to be completely impossible for anyone without a degree in law, and anyway costs far too much time), but indeed since the Supreme Court made corporations people and money free speech, almost anything seems possible in U.S. law.

There is considerably more in the article
, including opposition against this quite crazy schema of corporations that forbid you speaking the truth about their products.

5. Renewables Not Enough: World Needs Democratic, Decentralized Energy, says Report

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

In order to build an adequate low-carbon 21st century energy system that scientists have said is necessary to stave off the worst impacts of climate change, a new report argues that the world must look beyond large-scale, centralized renewable projects—such as industrial solar and wind farms—and take up efforts to build more democratically-controlled and decentralized power grids.

Contained as a chapter in the Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2014: Governing for Sustainability, the research compiled by professor Sean Sweeney, who co-directs of the Global Labor Institute at Cornell University, says the world's energy systems must be "reclaimed to serve public interests, rather than focus on maximizing sales and profits" for the large corporations who now benefit from the burning of fossil fuels and the centralized grids that distribute most of the world's electricity.

Well...I can be brief about this: (1) I agree with what is said, but (2) I have read many proposals concerning energy, pollution and the environment the last 44 years (e.g. in the University of Amsterdam) that I - more or less - agreed with (in principle), but which came to absolutely nothing, while (3) the present case seems one more such noble proposal, for it does not at all explain how one can successfully reclaim "public interests, rather than focus on maximizing sales and profits" at a time when precisely the opposite is happening.

But there is considerably more in the article, and - of course - you may disagree with me.

6. Critics to Obama: 'Draconian Cuts' Have Been to US Public Services, Not War Budget

The next item is an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

President Obama's comments on Wednesday that U.S. military spending is under threat of "draconian" cuts were met with immediate rebuke from analysts, who say the poor are bearing the brunt of austerity while the war budget remains largely untouched. That the president's comments came in the midst of the expansion of the costly U.S.-led war against Iraq and Syria sparked concern that the president could be signaling further escalation to come.

I agree with the "analysts" and added bolding: "the poor are bearing the brunt of austerity while the war budget remains largely untouched". Also, I think it considerably more likely that there will be (more) American troops send out to fight Isis on the ground.

There is considerably more in the article, but the only thing worth stressing is that Obama was simply lying when he described "the draconian cuts" to his "defense" budget: As the article makes clear, this refers to a cut of less than 1% in 2014.

7. Edward Snowden to speak at Observer Ideas festival

The next item is an article by Carole Cadwalladdr on The Guardian:
This starts as follows (and is Good News, for a change):

Edward Snowden will make his first UK public appearance via satellite link this weekend more than one year since the Guardian published his revelations about mass surveillance and the NSA.

Appearing via video link from Moscow, Snowden will be speaking as part of the Observer Ideas festival on Sunday, being held at London’s Barbican Theatre.

His appearance will come two days after the world premiere of Laura Poitras’s documentary about the whistleblower’s revelations, CITIZENFOUR, at the New York Film Festival.

Snowden is also being tipped as one of the favourites to win the Nobel Peace Prize, which is also being announced tomorrow.

There is more in the article, including sensible ideas of John Naughton, who is going to question Snowden.

8.
What’s Wrong With The Trans Atlantic Trade And Investment Partnership?

The next item is an article by Don Quijones on Raging Bull-Shit:
This starts as follows:

Most Europeans and Americans are still blissfully unaware of even the existence of the Transalantic Trade And Investment Partnership (TTIP), nevermind how it could impact their own existence. Here’s a four-minute, eight-second summation of many (but far from all) of the things that are wrong with the soon-to-be-signed treaty (told from a largely European perspective).

And this is the video. It's scary but adequate:


9. Personal

Tomorrow I will probably start with a brief English review on my M.E. the last month, followed by a considerable amount of Dutch quotations from 1987 and
1988 on my experiments with vitamins.

The last is possibly interesting to few, since I did get a lot better from 1984-1988 with the help of vitamins, but then lost all the health I had gained and more through being systematically deprived of sleep, of rights and of help by four
cafés with terraces open till well after 1 o'clock at night within 10 to 20 meters
from where I was supposed to sleep.

This is probably only interesting to a few, so it will be in its own non-crisis file.
---------------------------------
Notes
[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.) 


About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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